Well, this is it. The end of the season.
Gotham and Agents of Shield both delivered strong, emotional finales this week, though the former set up its next season and the latter, for once, just wrapped up the story. I enjoyed both of them immensely, and they picked very good points to leave off for awhile. It’s going to feel like forever, it always does.
See you all again in a few months! 😉
4.22 “No Man’s Land”
And we go from deep waters to much deeper waters, from the fire to the bonfire, and from the darkness to even greater darkness.
Bruce gets Selina to the hospital posthaste after Jeremiah shot her, and they get her into surgery immediately, but her spinal cord was damaged… (hey, wait a minute, are they borrowing Batgirl’s fate?) …and the last thing we really see of her is when they’re wheeling her in. She pleads with Bruce, more afraid than I recall ever seeing her, just for him to be there, to not leave her. She told him last episode that she would always be there for him, and he is determined to be there for her.
But fate, and Batman’s two greatest enemies, are not so kind as that.
Alfred probably would have killed Jeremiah if they hadn’t needed to save Selina, but as is he punches him good and takes him to Gordon at the GCPD. The cops are definitely wanting some of his blood, can’t blame them there, but Gordon intends for him to rot in Arkham, no matter his cryptic talk of vision, eyes opening, another set of generator bombs, and wanting to talk with Bruce. Unfortunately, when Ra’s uses one such bomb to level the mayor’s office with the mayor and his staff still inside, they have to play ball a bit, and when the military arrives to put the city under martial law until order is restored, the locals are all robbed what fleeting control over the situation they might have had. The officer in charge has Gordon promptly arrested for not complying quickly enough and hauls Bruce and Alfred in against their will.
I can respect that the military took every precaution they knew how to take, and they did what seemed best to them to save the situation and save lives, but they didn’t know what they were really dealing with. Ra’s and the League enter the precinct, kill soldiers, take Jeremiah, Bruce, the bombs, and a small fleet of GCPD transport vans, all without ever being seen by most of the armed forces in the building. The military might have the firepower needed to lay waste to the League, but caught unawares and facing assassins led by a man who is practically a phantom, they stood no chance.
Gordon took an involuntary side-trip while all this was happening. Riddler wanted Lee to choose him over Gordon, so he kidnapped Gordon and started killing him slowly, under a weight press, supposedly so Lee would be free of his influence and become the woman he wanted her to be. Lee found out, of course, and made a show of her independence, severing ties with Gordon, announcing that she was leaving Gotham (for the umpteenth time), and inviting Riddler to join her. That was partially a ruse too, to get Gordon out. She will always care for him, as he cares for her, but their time is done, and she’s not the person she once was. As for leaving, that’s because she feels her work in the Narrows is done. And Riddler? Well, that’s a problem she’s dealing with.
When Gordon returns, it takes him and Bullock almost no time at all to figure out that the bombs are heading to the bridges, to isolate the city and turn it into a dark island. When the military man refuses to clear the bridges and tries to arrest Gordon again, Bullock and all the other officers turn their guns on him. This is their town, they know what’s going on now, they trust Gordon and got his back, and they will clear those bridges. Which, they do, just in time.
They don’t know it, but they got some much-needed help at that pivotal moment. After Ra’s kidnaps Bruce, Alfred goes to Barbara to find Ra’s. She’s been given an offer by the immortal, to come with him, rule the league as a whole by his side, and share eternity with him. She’s not tempted by that offer, apparently, and means to kill him. With her come her lady assassins and one pissed-off Tabitha. She was with Butch, undergoing Strange’s macabre, mad science treatment to restore him, when she got the call about Selina, and she really wants to kill Jeremiah. Butch would come with her, but the process should not be interrupted, so Penguin goes in his place. With Jeremiah and Ra’s working together, that points them all in the same direction, to kill their enemies and save Bruce.
All things considered, it goes fairly well. They don’t lose any of their own, Penguin saves Tabitha from Jeremiah, Barbara puts the reforged dagger’s handle in Bruce’s hand and rams it into Ra’s chest, making him crumble entirely to ash this time, and even with their failure to stop the detonation of the bombs, they buy just enough time for the bridges to be cleared of innocent civilians, Gordon himself carrying the last child to safety in the nick of time.
With the destruction of the bridges, however, and the loss of power, the city is falling quickly into literal and figurative darkness. The military is pulling out, and taking everyone they can with them, including most of the cops and other public services. The entire island is about to erupt in an unholy turf war with gangs and freaks tearing it apart in every corner.
Bruce reaches Selina’s side again just as the last ambulance is about to leave with her. He promised to be by her side, and, in my opinion, he should have done just that. He sees the destruction swallowing the city, and I can understand why he chooses to stay, but, come on, Bruce, why not leave and then come back? Selina was there for Bruce, and Bruce promised to stay with her. Instead, he chooses Gotham over her, sending Alfred to take care of her. There’s something about that which, really, I can only imagine that it will create a gap between them which may well prove impossible to bridge this time. He’s fighting for the city and the people in it, but he’s also letting her down, severely. That can’t end well.
He’s not alone in the darkness, though. Gordon stays too, and with him comes Bullock, Fox (who gets the lights turned on with one of Jeremiah’s generators), and more officers. They’re staying to fight for their city. And the first thing Gordon does is set up a spotlight, pointing up to the clouds, to show people that there is still some light, shining brilliantly in this darkness.
They’re up against a great deal. In the abyss Gotham has fallen into, it’s demons are already on the rise. Firefly, Freeze, Scarecrow, the Sirens, pretty much everyone I can think of is accounted for except the Hatter and Poison Ivy, all of them leaping to carve out bloody chunks of the city for themselves. And new monsters are rising in the shadows as well, teasing Man-Bat and Mother-Mae-I, if I guess (and spell) correctly. Even Bruce is stalking in the darkness, looking for Jeremiah. And Penguin has influence again, and Doctor Strange is at work as well with his latest acquisitions.
In regards to that last, Penguin and Strange, the former used the latter’s services to restore Butch… just so he could kill him in front of Tabitha. It’s well over two years since Tabitha, at Galavan’s order, murdered Penguin’s mother. They’ve been enemies and allies countless times since, and Penguin could have killed her countless times, but he waited. He even saved her life that very night, and exhausted his resources curing Butch, just so he could take someone Tabitha loved from her and make her live with that pain. He shoots her in the leg to keep her from killing him right then, but now the line between them is drawn. They are out to kill each other now, and nothing less.
That last is part of what inspires Barbara and the Sirens to institute a No Men policy, starting with killing Penguin’s goons who deliver Tabitha and the male members of the League who came to offer their allegiance to Barbara after she killed Ra’s.
Last but not least, Strange’s latest project is mending Riddler and Lee, after the two lovers stab each other. Lee wasn’t going to leave the Narrows now, and she knew Riddler was going to turn on her someday and kill her, so she struck first, and he struck back. Now they’re in Strange’s care, and in Penguin’s custody, which, considering that he just healed Butch in order to kill him, does not bode well.
So the finale ends with the setup for next season, Bruce and Gordon standing side-by-side beneath the light, looking over the No Man’s Land that Gotham has become, planning how to take it back.
The No Man’s Land storyline is one of the most famous and powerful, I think, in all of Batman lore. The original story involved the federal government giving up on Gotham and blowing the bridges, and it was set about ten years into Bruce’s time as Batman, including his gallery of sidekicks, an array of his enemies, and even Lex Luthor of Superman fame played a pivotal role. It’s easily a favorite among fans, myself included, which is why they included elements of it in Dark Knight Rises.
It promises to be a most riveting and compelling storyline for Gotham to tackle next season, but I wonder. I remember watching Smallville‘s later seasons, with Doomsday, Zod, and Darkseid, and thinking that it was a bit ridiculous for them to keep giving Clark (and the Justice League) such greater and greater foes to face without Clark actually being Superman, or even being able to properly fly. It worked pretty heavily against the show, I thought.
Now Gotham plunging the Bruce and Gordon into No Man’s Land, perhaps the single most famous crucible the Dark Knight has ever faced in comic book lore, complete with supervillains carving up territory and monsters lurking in the darkness, but Bruce isn’t Batman yet. Quite the contrary, this is supposed to make him become Batman, which, really, every other version of Batman is Bruce Wayne’s idea, the result of his drive, his will, his dedication. Bruce Wayne becomes Batman on his own, not because of some villain’s desire for it. So, I wonder if the show will suffer for this.
But whether this is the moment the show begins to head downhill or just a precursor to something even greater, this was definitely a season finale for the books, most excellently done!
5.22 “The End”
If this ends up as the last episode of the series, which I hope it isn’t, then they certainly did a pretty good job of it.
(looks it up on Wikipedia)
Ok, not the end of the series. But, the next one airs next year. Drat. Patience may be a virtue I’ve had to practice, but who doesn’t hate waiting for good things, eh?
As for the episode itself: wow.
I will admit, after seeing Infinity War last week, I was afraid that even if the agents won, it would end on a note of half of them disappearing into dust. I’m glad they didn’t do that. There was plenty enough tension without it.
To start with, we have the heated discussion of whether to save Coulson or the world. Yo-Yo leads the argument for the world, Daisy for Coulson, Fitz-Simmons popping in their insights. Daisy is about to make the decision unilaterally, but Yo-Yo steals the centipede serum from her, and she’s breaking down because she’s alone and nothing is holding them together. That’s when Mack tells them that they still have hope to hold them together, bringing her around, and they’re going to vote until May grabs the odium and smashes it. She decides the save the man instead of the world.
Coulson would have agreed with Yo-Yo, as he tells her when she comes to make herself clear on that. May made the choice to save Coulson, but she also leaves the needle with the serum that will save his life on the desk next to him. It’ll be his choice, then, whether he lives or not. She’s fought to save him, she just took away the alternative, and now she leaves it to him, to live and get back in the fight, or just lie there and die.
With the impending end of the world, Deke does what he can to prepare the Lighthouse for its soon-to-be status as humanity’s last refuge, but he’s not staying. As he figures it, either the world will break, and he wants to see it’s beauties first, or they’ll break the loop and he’ll wink out of existence, so he wants to see the world’s beauties first. He was never an agent, never really fit in with them, but that’s because they’re all so willing to die for each other, rather than just kill for each other, while he’s a broken man from a broken place. So, as a bit of parting advice, he tells Daisy that she needs to fix that first, if she wants to ever lead the team.
Daisy takes that to heart and does one better. See, she doesn’t want to lead. She actually agrees with Yo-Yo, that she’s not fit for it. She can’t hold the team together. (as I’ve said, she’s good at taking point, but she’s not ready for leading Shield just yet) But Mack is. Mack, not Daisy, is the one who can hold them together, a general they can all rally behind. And everyone on the team agrees, including Coulson, who walks in, hands Daisy her Quake gear, and hands the reins of leadership to Mack.
So, what are the agents of Shield going to do with Mack as their leader? Save lives.
Talbot got Robin to talk, to show him where the gravitonium is, by taking her mother away from her. Even knowing what she knows, even having May as a second mother for much of her life, Robin is still just a little girl. So she gives Talbot what he wants, and he descends on Chicago. He lands is ship, which he’s levitating to fly, on top of several tall buildings, raining death and chaos in the streets as he tears them up to absorb small pieces of gravitonium. Cops, firemen, medics, everyone’s trying to help, but there’s so much damage, so many people getting hurt, that they’re overwhelmed.
And then comes Mack’s voice, the voice of Shield. Oh, thank God.
Shield guides the evacuation, using aircraft to carry people who are trapped, going inside the buildings the ship landed on to clear them before they collapse. And as for they enemy? Do not engage. Shield will deal with him, sending their two biggest guns, Coulson to talk and Daisy to punch.
Shield is here. They got this.
…except, Coulson isn’t going. He can barely stand. He didn’t take the serum. So with some counsel for Daisy, he sends her in. She relents, at first unwillingly, but tells him to go and back and take the serum right then and there.
The audience sees this scene as the creation of that footage she was shown in the future. The day the world ended. The last day she was ever seen. The day of the huge earthquake that began the shattering of the world.
Mack and May reach the top of a building just below the ship, finding Robin and some others. Mack goes in after Robin’s mother, Polly. Fitz arrives shortly after, and realizes that Mack and Polly, two people who don’t make it to the future, are alone, out of sight, on a hostile alien ship. Mack finds Polly quickly enough, but two enemies come on them and they’re cornered, unable to run. But May and Fitz arrive, saving them and getting them out. Robin reunites with her mother, Mack makes it out alive… but rubble falls on Fitz.
Davis flies Coulson back to the Zephyr, but he’s unconscious and unresponsive on arrival. Simmons races for the med-bay and the needle while Yo-Yo prays and does chest compressions. Daisy tries to reason with Talbot, and she got close, perhaps, but the man turns on her and intends to absorb her so he can quake the ground apart, gather the gravitonium faster.
And then Robin, running from danger with her mother, says, “Something’s different.”
Fitz is uncovered, but grievously wounded. He dies. The loops is officially broken.
Robin’s mother lives. Mack lives. The loops is further broken.
The needle is missing. Coulson put the pieces together and hid it in Daisy’s gauntlet. She jams it into herself, getting a ridiculous power boost to break free from Talbot’s grip. Then she sends him up, into the sky, into space, becoming a block of floating ice on route to the sun.
The loop is broken. The world is saved.
Shield has saved the world, at the cost of several of their own.
Daisy had the right of it when she told Talbot that he was already a hero, that there were heroes in the streets all around them, that everyone who took the oath to protect others, they’re heroes. And Shield, they’re heroes. They signed up to lose everything, including each other, in service to others.
It’s a sober victory they have.
Simmons intends to find Fitz. He’s dead, but his past self is still frozen in space, taking the long way around to the future. She’ll find him.
There is intimation that Deke did, indeed, just wink out of existence.
Mack is the new Director, with Daisy as a strong number two, Yo-Yo by their side, Simmons looking for her husband who isn’t married to her yet, Davis flying the plane, and Piper joining them all in the cockpit.
Coulson has days, maybe weeks. So what does he do? He retires. They fly him and May to Tahiti, they all share one last drink together, some words, and then it’s off to the beach. The older generation steps down and the next one takes off.
Very, very satisfying.